'Glad To Be Back': SOAR Farmers Market Reopens In Streeterville

Bernie Tafoya
June 23, 2020 - 12:22 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- One of the great signs the city is “reopening” is that farmers markets are back. They began about two weeks ago and a popular one in Streeterville opened Tuesday for the first time this year.  

The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents' farmers market is in its sixth year on the plaza outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, but Deborah Gershbein said because of physical distancing it looks a lot different.

"In the previous years, we had 45 tents on the plaza here. This year, we can only have 18," she said.

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Besides keeping vendor tents six feet apart, customers are asked to stay six feet apart and to go in one direction.

Gershbein said farmers markets are greatly needed.

"I think it’s more important than ever this year, because grocery stores have been so challenged and this is farm fresh produce, which is the healthiest thing you can eat right now to keep your immune system strong," she said.

Farmer Chad Nichols of Marengo wasn’t sure there’d be farmers markets this year.  

"Thank goodness we did. People have to eat, so this is a real blessing and we’re just glad to be back," he said.

Farmer Liz Aquino of Lane’s End Farm in Lowell, Indiana wasn’t quite sure there’d be a farmers market season, but she knew she had to pay her bills, her employees, and salt away money for the winter.

"This is our 28th year farming, and for the first time ever, we opened an online store," she said. 

Aquino said the online store has kept her business afloat.

Also, Aquino credits social media.

"Social media on Facebook and on Instagram has been a huge help for us too this year. We depend on it more than we have in the past," she said.

Farmer Rene Gelder from Ellis Family Farms in Benton Harbor, Michigan also had to think outside the box just in case there were no farmers markets this year.

"I’ve done a lot of Internet sales so I’ve been delivering to the neighborhoods until the markets started up," Gelder said.

Customers are happy, too. Ellen Panozzo bought zucchini, kohlrabi, and heirloom tomatoes.

"I’m just so excited. I didn’t know it was going to be here and I’m thrilled," she said.

Customer Vikki Valentine said of the farmers market return, "It's about time. We've been waiting for this for the last three months. We're glad to have all of them back."

The SOAR Farmers Market is open every Tuesday from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.